Owatonna school district voters approved the district's building bond plan Tuesday. Fifty-seven percent of voters approved the nearly $78 million proposal.

Superintendent Peter Grant said, "I'm very grateful to those who supported us. The task force committee did a great job preparing all of this for us."

"Yes" votes numbered 4,952. "No" votes were 3,697. That is a 57 percent approval rate. Voter turnout was about 50 percent.

The plan has three components. Deferred maintenance of fixing parking lots, boilers, heating and cooling systems and plumbing and electrical updates at a cost of $34.6 million. The last major facilities improvements were done nearly 20 years ago.

To ease overcrowding at the elementary level, $38.4 million was requested. Action items include an addition to the junior high and converting it to a 6-8 middle school. Willow Creek will also get added on to and become a K-5 elementary school. Additions to Lincoln and McKinley are part of the plan. Grant said occupancy of the new spaces at Willow Creek and the junior high will happen in fall 2017.

The third component to Tuesday's vote was to increase security at all district schools. Upgrades will include camera systems and card access control. The cost is $4.9 million. "Work will start on the elementary schools right at the end of the school year on the security piece," Grant said.

Recommendations were based on a community task force study that spanned five months and involved 36 residents. Outside analysis was also factored in to the proposal. Grant said, "There was a lot of comments that these were 'needs' not 'wants.' There is no fluff in this. It's not real shiny stuff going up. It's going to be what we need to get done for the future."

Grant said the votes will be canvassed Monday, November 9. Preparation to sell bonds will follow. Then about six months of planning and designing will take place. The estimated tax impact on a $150,000 home is $15 per month.

School votes in Waseca and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown also passed.